f/k/a . . . the archives

April 22, 2007

dancin’ on thin ice

Filed under: — David Giacalone @ 12:35 pm

Over at simply senryu, we’ve been having a discussion today about the sentiment:

skaterSignNif you’re walkin’ on thin ice, then you might as well dance

I’ve been trying to locate the source of the maxim. Last January, I posted the words to the 1972 song “Do It” by Jesse Winchester, from the LP “Third Down, 110 to Go,” which was my introduction to the notion:

Do It

If the wheel is fixed
I would still take a chance
If we’re treading on thin ice
Then we might as well dance
So I play the fool
But I can’t sit still
Help me get this rock
To the top of this hill

Do it JWinchester3rd
‘Til we’re sick of it
Do it ’till you can’t do it no more

Erick Houck Jr. had seen it recently and first brought up the quote, in reaction to this dagosan senryu:

new ice
on the river -
still can’t walk on water

Matt Morden pointed to this article by a hypnotherapist, who saw the slogan on a button. About.com says the author is unknown. About did, however, quote this Japanese proverb: “We’re fools whether we dance or not, so we might as well dance.”

The Layabouts used the line repeatedly in the chorus of their 1989 song “Thin Ice” (lyrics by Ralph Franklin), from their “Workers of the World Relax” album.
KirbyThinIce Walkin’ on Thin Ice Key West (via NH) singer-guitarist Scott Kirby named his 1999 album “Walkin’ on Thin Ice“, and the title song incorporates the lyric in question.
One webchat site has an entry that seems to suggest that “Fiddler on the Roof” used the line, but I can’t find the reference, and am not familiar enough with the play to have an opinion. (maybe polymath George Wallace knows) How about you? Do know of any use of this line prior to Jesse Winchester’s 1972 song “Do It”? Please email or leave a Comment, if you can help run down the original source.

round and round with you
dancing
on thin ice

…. haiga (full size): poem by David Giacalone
photo by Arthur Giacalone

GatesSkateG

original by Arthur J. Giacalone, Esq., in full color

Central Park, NYC, ice rink, “The Gates” (March, 2005)

coldest day of the year
the lone skater laps
his breath

………………… by George Swede from Almost Unseen

figure skaters on lac la belle pirouetting into snow squalls

cold wind
the sweep of the speed skater’s arms

……………………………………by ed markowski skaterSignN

dancin’ on thin ice?
the old guy’s
doin’ The Slide
…. ……………………. by dagosan

p.s. All day, while chasing the source of the “might as well dance” quote, I’ve had this nagging thought: Thirty-four years ago, at 21, I thought this was a wonderful quote. Now, in my late-50s, it seems a bit rash — which is why I would recommend, if you must dance, that you do The Slide and avoid jumping up and down. Of course, getting down and rolling is probably the safest way to go.

………………….. potluck – more thin ice questionDudeS

checkedBoxS In Gonzales v. Oregon [No. 04-623, Jan. 17, 2006; Scalia dissent; Thomas dissent], the Supreme Court upheld an Oregon law that permits doctors to prescribe medications in certain assisted suicide situations. (SCOTUSBlog explains). As often happens when a strongly held personal belief is involved, Prof. Bainbridge seems to have misplaced his legal analytical mind. Steve declares that he is “confused” and cries out:

questionDudeSN “I”m sure there’s some hypertechnical explanation for why this all makes sense, but do we really want unelected and unaccountable judges deciding key social issues on the basis of hypertechnicalities?”

That’s right, a law professor overwhelmed by technicalties and distinctions. The Court upheld a state legislative choice over a questionable regulation by the unelected, non-expert U.S. Attorney General. If you’re not simply looking for results-oriented judging, it seems to me that Mark Zuniga got it right at his Hanging a Shingle weblog:

” I think the important difference here is that Marijuana was classified in the federal law as a drug that can never be prescribed while the drugs used in the assisted suicides may be prescribed for a “legitimate medical purpose.” The narrow holding of the Court appears to be that the statute leaves the question of legitimate medical purposes to the states. What we don’t know is whether Congress could actually outlaw suicide as a legitimate medical purpose. That probably is coming.”

NoloSharkS Matt Homann says he likes to “think Big Thoughts,” but it always looks like he wants lawyers — under the guise of “value pricing” — to “think Big Fees.” On Jan. 11, Homann pointed to the article The Price is Never Wrong, calling it “Good practical introduction to concepts of price vs. value.” In it, the author brags about how much easier it was to sell a seminar he gives for $6500 than for $1500 to $2000. As I stated in “ethics aside“, and the materials linked there, modern psychological marketing techniques may be acceptable in some businesses, but the legal profession needs to have higher ethical criteria. The notion of unreasonably high fees can’t be avoided because a lawyer can fool a client into accepting the “value” of a tripled fee. That “value billing” approach is skating on ethical thin ice, even if the lawyer gets to dance all the way to the bank.

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